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Established in 1982, Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, or as we’re going to call it, The Most Beautiful Villages of France was set up to promote the small and picturesque villages of France. To qualify for membership, the villages must have quality heritage, a population of less than 2000, and contain at least two national heritage sites. Today the number of members sits at around 150, so it’s rather unlikely you’ll get to see all of them. To help you see the best of the lot, our Europe experts have picked some of their favourites for you to check out…
If walking down cobblestone streets lined with sixteenth century buildings and adorned with window boxes full of beautiful blooming flowers sounds like Europe to you, then a visit to Eguishiem is a must! The locals take pride of their brightly painted town which has won many awards for its beauty.
Nestled in a tiny valley where three rivers meet, Baume-les-Messieurs could not be more picture perfect. The main attraction in the town is the Benedictine Baume Abbey, but we highly recommend setting out on one of the many walking tracks that ascend the valleys for beautiful views back down to the town.
Built in the 12th century to be a lookout town for nearby Dijon, the remaining towers have wonderful views all over the countryside. Today the very quiet town has a great collection of quaint houses and cobblestone streets to explore. It’s proximity close to the Burgundy Canal means it’s a great day trip for canal boaters in need of a day on solid ground.
Just 30 kilometres north of Lyon, Perouges started off life as a small farming and weaving settlement and was actually part of Italy at the time. In 1601 the town came under French control but lost its textile industry when roads and railways bypassed the town. Thankfully though, the town has been preserved and is a popular tourist attraction today. It has two sets of city walls, beautiful wooden and stone buildings, rather uneven cobblestone streets and to top it all off, a fortified church.
This small village was built around a Benedictine abbey in the eighth century which was particularly well known for its treasures. After several Viking raids, walls and defences were built around the town which remain today. However the town did fall to the English in the Hundred Years War and the abbey treasures were moved to another village for protection. The abbey fell into ruins but was taken over by another religious sect whose monks were famous for making aniseed lollies. Today the aniseed lollies are still produced in the abbey and are one of the main reasons tourists visit the town. There’s also a garden in the town that features plants used for making textiles and ropes.
> Read about the Most Beautiful Villages in Dordogne.
> Read about the Most Beautiful Villages in Southern France.
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